Gambling is risking something of value on an event that’s determined at least in part by chance in the hope of winning a prize. This can include activities like slot machines, casinos, office pools and lottery or scratch tickets. But gambling also includes activities that can be considered games of skill, such as betting on horse races or using knowledge about horses and jockeys to improve your odds of winning a raffle or jackpot.
Many people struggle with gambling, and many do not even realise they have a problem. This can be particularly true of people who have a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, or a substance misuse problem, such as drugs or alcohol. People with these problems are at particular risk of harmful gambling, as they are more likely to turn to it as a way of distracting themselves or covering up feelings. It’s also important to note that there is a strong link between gambling and suicide, so if you have thoughts of harming yourself or are in immediate danger, call 999 or go to A&E immediately.
Whether it’s a quick spin on the roulette wheel or placing bets on your favourite team, most of us have indulged in some form of gambling at one time or another. However, for some, the temptation to gamble can become an addiction. Gambling can have devastating consequences, causing financial hardship and straining personal relationships. It can also lead to self-sabotage and even legal issues such as forgery and theft. Despite this, there are a number of treatments available to help those struggling with a gambling addiction.
The most difficult step is admitting that you have a gambling problem. But if you can overcome the shame and stigma associated with gambling addiction, you’ll be one step closer to recovery. Many people have successfully broken the habit of gambling and rebuilt their lives. The most common treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can examine your beliefs around gambling and how you think, feel and act when gambling.
It’s also possible to get professional help through inpatient and residential rehab programmes, which are typically offered by specialist gambling addiction charities. These can be a great option for those who have tried to quit on their own but are unable to do so without round-the-clock support.
The best way to tackle a gambling problem is by making a firm commitment to stop gambling for good. It’s then a case of avoiding tempting environments and online gambling websites, finding healthy alternative ways to spend your money and replacing unhealthy behaviours with productive ones. If you’re worried about your gambling habits, speak to a debt adviser at StepChange. We’re here to offer free, independent advice and can discuss the best solutions for your situation. Call 0800 138 089. Or visit our Debt Help Centre for more information on managing your finances. You can also contact us directly through the chat service on our website.